NFL Strips Dolphins Of First-Round Pick, Suspends Owner Stephen Ross For Tampering With Tom Brady, Sean Payton


Moments after Brian Flores filed his lawsuit against the Dolphins and the NFL in February, the league responded by claiming the former head coach’s claims were “without merit.” Now, exactly six months later, following an investigation, the league has changed its tune.

Roger Goodell announced that the Miami Dolphins did tamper with Tom Brady following the 2019 season and that the Dolphins did tamper with former Saints head coach Sean Payton in January of this year. The league determined that Flores’ allegations of Ross imploring the coach to tank games in order to get a better draft pick did not actually impact the Dolphins in terms of trying to win games on the field.

The NFL announced the following significant punishments for the Dolphins on Tuesday:

–The stripping of a first-round pick in 2023 and the stripping of a third-round pick in 2024.

–Owner Stephen Ross is suspended through Oct. 17, 2022.

–Dolphins vice chairman/limited partner Bruce Beal is suspended for the 2022 season.

This marks just the third time that the NFL has stripped a first-round pick from a team, with the previous two instances involving the Patriots (Spygate, DeflateGate).

With regard to the tampering with Brady, the situation arose after the 2019 season, before Brady left the Patriots as a free agent.

But according to the investigation, the Dolphins’ tampering began all the way back in August of 2019.

“These numerous and detailed discussions were conducted by Mr. Beal, who in turn kept Mr. Ross and other Dolphins executives informed of his discussions with Mr. Brady,” the NFL stated.

That tampering picked up again following the 2021 season when the team also spoke with Payton without asking the Saints for permission.

“The investigators found tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity,” Goodell said. “I know of no prior instance of a team violating the prohibition on tampering with both a head coach and star player, to the potential detriment of multiple other clubs, over a period of several years. Similarly, I know of no prior instance in which ownership was so directly involved in the violations.”